Saint-Jean-de-Luz has one of those sunny, shimmering, colourful harbours that you’ll see in guidebooks and think: Now that looks really lovely. That’s how it got onto my itinerary anyway.
This wonderfully-quaint old town has a lot of water. Various rivers meet the sea here and the view of the sea from the sandy bay stretches on without interruption. The trade of this town is what has made it rich in the past; bright fishing boats are a plenty. It is located south of Arcachon and is the last French bay before Spain. In fact, it’s just a few kilometres north of the Spanish border.
We drove on to Saint-Jean-de-Luz from Biarritz. It wasn’t a far drive to do after our walkabout in Bayonne. Biarritz and Bayonne are just a few minutes apart and Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a half an hour’s drive southward. That makes it really easy to see all three areas in one day if you want to.
Things to See
Right on the harbour we found a great little foodie shop to browse: Le Comptoir du Pecheur. It’s a little bit touristy but not garish. Here you can find plenty of interesting preserves, spreads and things to eat that all come from the sea!
For more shopping and window browsing, visit the main street. The old church, Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Jean-de-Luz is also on the main street, and is definitely also worth a visit. Inside you’ll find detailed patterns on the walls and ceilings as well as lots of dark wood.
The town’s buildings are decorated in the typical Basque style: white-washed walls and red shutters. If you keep your eyes peeled, you might spot L’Atelier du chocolat. No visit to the south west of France is complete without a visit to this chocolate institution. On such a cold, rainy day we thoroughly enjoyed a warm, thick hot chocolate. I had a coffee-flavoured one, and my husband has the dark chocolate orange flavour, with little bits of candied orange that sink to the bottom. To order this drink, choose your chocolate flavour and watch as the shop assistance breaks a massive chunk of chocolate off of the most enormous slab you’ve ever seen in your life and then melts it in your cup with some hot water.
Take a Guided Stroll
Don’t miss a pleasant walk along the sandy bay and up to a lonely white chapel, from which you can see the sea smashing against jagged cliffs. This walk stretches many miles north towards Biarritz.
I’ve put together a little town exploration trail to get you started. It starts at the harbour, goes to the church, chocolate shop, main beach area and then a great lookout point. Find the route on Google maps here.